Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Dog Care and the Lack Thereof


Slate has a great article called "Poor Little Rich Dog", profiling a dog which has all its material needs met but not adequate human attention or training. And he's a yard dog to boot, which is about as lonely and neurosis-making a situation for a dog as can be imagined. I love dogs, but I don't have time and space for one. That's why I have no dog of my own.
There are other kinds of abuse, of course. There's the kind of neglect that you see on that animal hospital show (which I've only watched once, as I couldn't bear it). There's puppy mills, like the one our Liath was rescued from, which condemn bitches and sires to churn out litters until they drop, put them in uncleanly housing, and all so that pet stores can sell cute and unhealthy puppies to the unsuspecting public. There's dogfighting. There's letting dogs wander and breed; there's dropping dogs by the side of the road to scrounge or to die; there's just plain killing and abuse unto death.
But if you take a dog into your house, you are taking responsibility for that dog's life, health, and happiness. You are, as Kipling and Lewis pointed out, becoming something very like God to that dog. It is a trust.
Btw...I know some people find crates useful. However, I see an awful lot of people abusing them or using them as excuses not to housetrain. With our dog, the question was sorta moot, as any crate big enough to contain an Irish wolfhound would be a menace to the rest of us. Also, both Liath and the late Rory were rescued from situations that made them very leery of confinement.

Usually, I'd think it would be easier just to take off a week (plus weekends) from work, housetrain the dog thoroughly, keep the dog in a certain room until you're sure it's safe in the house, and then let the dog pick where it wants to be during the day. Our dogs would've gone nuts if they couldn't have "patrolled" the house on the schedule they set up for themselves, and picked out their own various vantage points and sleeping dens. We  would've gone nuts if they'd been insecure enough to be barky or rip up the house. And there's no point having a dog if you're not going to spend your hometime with them or take them on walks and play with them.

Btw, if you have a new or insecure dog (like our rescue dogs), it is very helpful to the dog if you sleep in the same room with him or her for the first few nights. This helps them to know you're all in the same pack and gets them used to your continuing presence.


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